Monday, November 7, 2011

MimiLove- Featured Artist of the Month

I’d like to introduce you to my first featured artist piece. Forgive my going on and on about these talented individuals. If you ask someone who is good at their work, why and how they are good at their work, their answers are much too humble. The best usually are the least able to say just how amazing they really are. So, as I introduce you to some of my favorite contemporary fiber artists, I’m going to tell you why I think they are so amazing.

This piece is a combination of her Website, her Blog, her Etsy Shop, her Flicker Photostream, and questions she answered for me and a bit of my personal feelings about their inspirations and abilities. So lets go! Enjoy!

Mimi Love Embroidery Artist Extraordinaire

The first time I saw the work of Mimi Love, I was stunned by her originality, her colors, her meandering use of the canvas and her inventive imagery. While her work sparkles with whimsy it also reflects her innovative and intuitive sense of design and mastery of color.

Mimi Love is from Staffs, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom. You really must visit her blog just to see the evolution of her work from fine art to fine craft. Her background in fine art is equally fresh and skillful as her embroidery. Her portraits seem to capture her subject’s spirit. Her drawings are loose and playful. Her pop art series has been celebrated in UK galleries. She uses her skills to connect, assist through charity work, and inspire through her joyful nature.

Let’s transition into Mimi’s Embroidery work, a transformation that simply inspires me to “lighten up and celebrate craft, color and life. She just makes me want to smile.

I asked her a few questions about her artistic life and inspirations. Here is what she had to say.

You have a very unique and original style? How did you develop your technique?

ML “There were all sorts of factors and inspirational folks that led to it really; years of painting on canvas (large scale acrylics), a love of embroidery but never actually doing it, the yen to explore watercolors again and a complete inability to stick with something for more than ten minutes without being distracted and moving onto the next thing.
To be honest it was the materials I had to hand at the time that kick started it.”

I set out with the intention of exploring embroidery and after a bit of internet action came across the work of Aimee Ray and Tilleke Schwarz. Their work really opened my eyes, I had embroidery in my head as being all satin stitch shading, complicated stitches and totally unapproachable without taking lessons etc.
I then had a chance meeting with British artist Jake Sutton who very generously gave me a copy of his book The Importance of Drawing from Life, along with some very wise words and a huge amount of inspiration, all of which kick started the painting again.
From the painting/art side of things some of my favourite artists are Vincent Van Gogh, Klimt, Jenny Saville and Jake Sutton and stitchy folks Aimee Ray and Tilleke Schwarz, Joetta Maue, Arlee Barr, Penny Nickels and Adam from Monsterosity/Yukihiro but there's hundreds of names I could list!"

"I do owe Aimee a massive debt of gratitude as she was one of the folks who inspired me to take up stitching in the first place. If you haven't ventured into the stitching world yet but always fancied a go then I really can't recommend her first book Doodle Stitching enough. It was the catalyst to all the stuff you've seen me knock up on you've got Aimee to partly blame! x;0)”

SOSN What sets Mimi Love apart from any and all of her inspirations and mentors is her ability to bravely unravel convention. She uses watercolors on canvas and stitches on top of that. Who does such a thing? You would think that the holes from the needle will be too big. It would be too hard to push the needle through a primed canvas. I was taught to use paper with watercolor, and so on. The little negative voices in my head would have nixed her ideas from the get go. This is why I never went where the beautiful and fearless Mimi Love goes. Her ability to ignore that little voice is a priceless gift.

It’s so much more than her materials that set her apart, it’s the mark she leaves behind. Her stitches, which are exactly the same as the stitches I use, look nothing like mine, or most every stitcher I know. She create longs, lovely, unbroken, freedom loving lines in brilliant color. Bright beads, sequins and fibers kind of float over unconstrained spaces. They feel as if they move and dance on top of color and space. It’s a delight to take the time to simply enjoy each and every inch of each canvas.

Don’t get me started on the narrations she uses. Who needs lines? Not Mimi Love. Words are upside down and sideways. She uses her lovely wit, her favorite music, quotes and cockney rhymes along side of her beautiful artwork. Her words are like brushstrokes. If brushstrokes could giggle that is.

How would you describe your work to another fabric artist?

ML “Over the past 2 years I have moved away from the large scale "pop art" acrylics and have combined my new found love of embroidery with painting producing mixed media works including a range of Cockney Sparrows and Budgie Stufferies and a unique pet portrait service which can be found around the globe from Alaska to Australia!
I paint animal/bird portraits and then embellish them with freehand embroidery, beads and so forth, so fluffy with a lump of mixed media would probably sum it up! :)
I've been painting pet portraits for as long as I can remember so it (adding embroidery to the canvas) has been a natural continuation of that really...I do people and other stuff too...I just think I've got a better understanding/more of an affinity with animals!
I felt my stitching (on fabric, without paint) was lacking something. I initially collaged some of my watercolor efforts onto the canvas and stitched them, which I kind of liked but it just wasn't quite "there"... it just seemed the next logical step to try the watercolors direct on to the canvas and Bob's y' uncle! It's just grown from there really! :)"

Here are some progressive photo's from her Blog resulting from a chance meeting of Mr. Humphries channeling Sonic the Hedgehog.

I hope you have enjoyed learning more about this very talented fiber and fine artist. She had certainly influenced me. After looking close at her imaginative stitch techniques, her utter disregard for convention and her happy spirit, I am inspired to be courageous in my work. I feel like perhaps I can let go of the need to “do it the right way”. She shows us that following our instinct and embracing our experience makes anyway the right way. As long as we allow ourselves to create an extension of who we are inside.

Who is this wonderfully talented artists? In her own words, ….

“ MimiLove: one woman, a needle, a paintbrush, a disturbing music back catalogue in her brain and too much time on her hands.”

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